Is Rasa Lila a Dream??? Please clarify

Hare Krishna! 

My doubts are regarding an excerpt of an article I found online. It discusses about the gopis' morality in their involvement of rasa-lila. 

The excerpt: 

Further Doubt: The same scriptures you swear by, also make it mandatory that conjugal pleasures be restricted to one’s own wife; how then did Lord Krishna indulge in amorous sports with the gopis of Vrindavana who were married to someone else?

Resolution: This is a gross misconception in vogue about Lord Krishna. Its clarification begins with a brief summary of the Rasa Lila as described in the great scripture Srimad Bhagavatam. It was in the dead of night that Krishna set forth the tune from his flute in the forest. The gopis who heard it became intensely attracted to it and ran to the forest, leaving aside anything they were doing then and there instantly. Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes, etc. and ran away.

The moment the gopis reached the forest, Krishna asked: ‘What brings you here? What help do you need?’ They bent their heads without answering Him. Then He said: ‘Is it not wrong for noble ladies like you to meet anyone other than your husbands at this odd hour?’ They cried and said: ‘Krishna! We have come with great difficulty to join you here. You should not reject us like this’. Then He condescended to play Rasa with them among bloomed lotuses.

At the end of the narration of this episode by sage Shukadeva, the listener Parikshit expressed the same doubt that has been expressed above. To which Shukadeva Ji replied: ‘Tejiyasam Na Doshaya – No fault in this for Tejiyans’, and concluded that indeed, the next morning their husbands saw the gopis just sleeping by their sides.

So the clarification hinges on the word Tejiyans and its meaning should be internally consistent with the description of Rasa. Notice that nobody will be washing clothes or doing cooking etc in the dead of night. Also the next morning their husbands saw the gopis just sleeping by their side. This gives us a clue that the Rasa was a dream. This is confirmed as follows:

Tejiyan means ‘more lustrous’ according to Panini’s grammar. Who is more lustrous than whom? The Upanishads call the wakeful Jiva as Vishwa and the dreaming Jiva as Taijasa. This Taijasa is more lustrous (tejiyan) than Vishwa. Therefore, Shukadeva’s reply means that there is no fault in the activities of the dreaming gopis. This is exactly what the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad says. For that matter, we all know it ourselves. Nobody deprecates anyone for the faults committed by him in his dreams. Why? The external world keeps our mind under leash when we are awake; but the mind becomes totally free during dreams and mixes the experiences of the real world with its imaginations creating the dream, where the little boy Krishna can behave like an adult, and lotuses can bloom in the night. Nevertheless, He has to first admonish the gopis for their conduct!

This article is based almost entirely on the teachings of Param Pujya Swami Paramanand Bharati Ji. However, any errors are entirely the author’s own.

Please explain if this is right. Is it a dream? How can it be a dream? 

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  • vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ 
    śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
    bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ 
    hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ

    purport (explanation) by srila bhakti siddhanta saraswati prabhupada

    "If a self-controlled person listens with faith to the confidential pastimes of Sri Krsna with the damsels of Vraja, from the mouth of Sri Guru and glorifies it at every second, then he immediately obtains transcendental devotion towards the Supreme Lord and becomes capable of distancing himself from the heart disease of lust without delay." (Bhag. 10.33.40)Without meditating upon the actual meaning of this verse, if we are only eager to hear about the rasa-lila for the sake of listening without discretion, and if we attempt to enjoy the rasa-lila when we are afflicted by a licentious consciousness, then we will fall into a state of severe illusion.

    Reciters should take note of the word ‘dhira’ in the aforementioned verse. The rasa-lila should only be heard and continuously sung by a self-controlled person. It is not a subject matter for discussion by one who is afflicted with lust. Except for the pure Vaisnava, others cannot be considered to bedhira. Because their minds are running here andthere for the sake of worldly sense objects, they are adhira. Therefore, they have no qualification to hear and preach about the rasa-lila.

    From whom does a completely self-controlled person hear about therasa-lila?
    Not from a person afflicted withlust, but from the lotus feet of Sri Guru who is free from lust. And
    in front of whom does he perform kirtana?
    Not in front of an unqualified person, but confidentially and individually to a qualified person.
    For what purpose does he continuously glorify the topic ofrasa?
    Not for the sake of earning money, but out of love for Krsna.
    What is the result?
    As regards the result, the self-controlled never pray for any other result other thanthe pleasure of Krsna – and in his heart, even if somewhere there is a small amount of lust hidden, then by the auspicious desire of Sri Krsna it is removed and that excellent self-controlled devotee stays absorbed in the pleasure of service.

    Therefore, to gain qualification to see or hear the rasa-lila, one should become dhira. Being self-controlled one should serve the lotus feet of the sad-guru(bona-fide spiritual master) and should be patient to gain that qualification. ***Without first climbing the branch of a tree, the fruits can never be reached.***

    --------------------------------------------This topic is truly our goal, and we can realize it by following the proper process. If a person is filled with worldly desires and is attachedto women, wine, and wealth, misunderstanding his own identity and considering himself to be his body, how can he properly meditate on rasa-lila?-

    Radha and Krsna are meeting together and embracing. If a devotee who is not advanced in bhakti tries to meditate on this, a worldly conception is bound to come in his heart.
    Therefore, always be careful.Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, who is a maha-maha-bhagavata, a topmost self-realized soul, is so detached from material consideration and possessions that he does not even possess a dor kaupina (loincloth) nor does he even have a bhajana kutira, a place to perform bhajana). He is totally renounced. For him there is no difference between the most beautiful naked lady and a piece of dry fire wood. He has no interest at all in the affairs of men and women. Yet, that Sukadeva Gosvami offers reverential obeisances to rasa-lila and asta-kaliya-lila. Although service to sweet Krsna like that of the gopis is certainly our goal, we cannot pretend to be close to that service at our stage.

    Always try to follow the teachings of the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and try to follow Srila Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's SriManah-siksa. This is first. Then, try to gradually come to the stage of rati (bhava-bhakti), at which time all of Krsna's pastimes will automatically manifest in a very pure form. Try to follow these instructions. Go through the channel opened by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and by our guru-parampara, and especially by Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

    please prabhu understand that our acharyas are so gravely issuing precautions about this subject only for our own good.
    --if we oversee or jump over the instructions of our acharyas thinking ' i know sastra, im intelligent & learned' and act independently (contrary to their words). we will meet misfortune. ---{yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado/ yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto api // by the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of krsna. without the grace of spiritual master ,one can not make any advancement}
    • If Lord Krishna wonted His lilas with Gopis to be confidential, Srila Vyasadev would never put it in Srimad  Bhagavatam.

      SB 1.3.43This Bhāgavata Purāṇa is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kṛṣṇa to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the Age of Kali shall get light from this Purāṇa.

      The content of Srimad Bhagavatam is at the first spoken for the welfare of all suffering people in this Kali yuga,  not only for saints, pure devotees, Brahmanas and acaryas.
      There is no precautions about Krishna lilas as far as the person who have desire to hear is not offensive.
      This statements is based on Srimad Bhagavatam, but statements who dont have a base in scripture can not be taken seriously.
      SB 1.3.43
      Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa has His eternal dhāma, or abode, where He eternally enjoys Himself with His eternal associates and paraphernalia. And His eternal abod…
  • Class in Los Angeles -- Los Angeles, November 15, 1968:

    Madhudviṣa: Prabhupāda, could youtell us something about Kṛṣṇa's rasa-līlā?

    Prabhupāda: (pause) Kṛṣṇa's rasa-līlā should not be discussed in public meeting. It is most confidential. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu never discussed. He discussed Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, līlā with gopīs, with His confidential, very confidential circle. Or those who are... Lord Caitanya had many thousands of followers, and... He was not discussing even within these five persons, śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi, Nityānanda, Advaita, Gadādhara, Śrīvāsa, and Himself, these five persons. So when He was at Navadvīpa, He was not discussing even with them, what to speak of others. He set up this example so that in future people may be very cautious. Because unless one understands what is Kṛṣṇa, how he can understand Kṛṣṇa's pastime? Sothis discussion of rasa-līlā is the summit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not ordinary thing. They're purelyspiritual. There is nothing material. But because we are not completely free from material concept of life, we may think that Kṛṣṇa's līlā is something like this material. So that is offense. But that is the ultimate goal, to understand Kṛṣṇa's rasa-līlā. But you have to wait for relishing that Kṛṣṇa's rasa-līlā, to become more perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Anarthāpagamam. Anartha means when one is freed from all anarthas. But it is so nice, even those who are with anartha, misgivings, if they are devotee, if they have got full surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, so they also will derive benefit. Kṛṣṇa's rasa-līlā means that Kṛṣṇa was adopted or foster child. Is that foster child? Yes. So, ofNanda Mahārāja. His father exchanged. His father Vasudeva wanted to save Kṛṣṇa, and he brought from Mathurā to Vṛndāvana, Gokula. And Nanda Mahārāja had a daughter. So he placed Kṛṣṇa on the lap of Yaśodā and took away the daughter, and this daughter was given to Kaṁsa forkilling. Just see, there is selfishness.He wanted to save his own son and wanted to kill Yaśodā's daughter. (chuckling) You see? So this is not selfishness; therefore we shall misunderstand. That daughter was not ordinary child, she was the material energy herself, Durgā. So when Kaṁsa took that child by the leg and wanted to, what is called? Slash? Smash, yes. Smash on the stone, the daughter slipped from his hand and appeared as Durgā, that "You fool, you want to kill me. The boy, the child who will kill you, is already born. Don't try for killing me. He's already born."

    So Kṛṣṇa, up to sixteen years, He was in Vṛndāvana. Naturally, there were many children, boys and girls.They played together. So they werevery... Kṛṣṇa, everyone loved. Vṛndāvana means simply center figure is Kṛṣṇa, and everyone loves. So some of the girls, they loved Kṛṣṇa, and a girl's loving means she wants Kṛṣṇa as husband.But according to Vedic concept, the girls are married at the age of twelve to sixteen years, and boys are married from twenty to twenty-five years. So all the girls were married mostly, but Kṛṣṇa was not married. And some of the girls were not married, but all the girls, they were very fond of Kṛṣṇa. So from the childhood they were friends. So Kṛṣṇa used to play His flute, and all the girls would come. So this rasa-līlā was performed on this day, the Kṛṣṇa, in the full moon night, He played the flute, and the girls assembled and there was dance. There is similar dance, just like ball dance in your country. But the specific significance of this dance was that Kṛṣṇa bifurcated Himself in so many boys as many girls there were, and they began to dance in pair. That is sum and substance of rasa-līlā. So if you go to Vṛndāvana and if you like to dance with Kṛṣṇa, the facility is for you. That is the ultimate goal of ourlife. If you want to love Kṛṣṇa similarly as the gopīs loved, you canhave the chance. Or if you want to love Kṛṣṇa as His cowherds boyfriend, that chance is also there.If you want to love Kṛṣṇa as child, that chance is also there. Any capacity you try to love Kṛṣṇa... Kṛṣṇa is ye yathā māṁ prapadyante (BG 4.11). "Anyone who worships Me or loves Me in any way, I am prepared to answer." He can answer... Just like Nṛsiṁha-deva. Because Hiraṇyakaśipu wanted to love Kṛṣṇa by becoming enemy, so He also answered as enemy. So there are twelve kinds of reciprocalexchange—seven secondary and five primary. So all these rasas... Rasa means rasa. Rasa means humor. All these humors are present even in this material world in different way, as perverted reflection of the spiritual rasa. Nothing can be new here, but here it is a reflection only. Reality is there. So the five primary principles of loving affairs is there in the Vaikuṇṭha world. And Kṛṣṇa consciousness means to practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness while we are in this material body, and after giving up this body, we enter into the spiritual realm for factually participating with Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Soif you want to enter into the rasa-līlā, if you desire like that, so you love Kṛṣṇa in that way, as the gopīs. Then you'll have the same perfection. There is no difficulty. It is not at all difficult. Simply you practice. But you have to forget therasa-līlā of this material world. (chuckling) Otherwise there world then you play havoc. That risk is there. Yes. "Kṛṣṇa enjoyed with so many girls, so let me also become Kṛṣṇa and enjoy." That is finished everything. (laughter) (pause) (baby laughs) Oh, she is appreciating. (chuckles) Yes. Thank you.

    And one thing we must always keep in mind is that we can't investigate all of the subtle, higher knowledge as a subjective researcher. Rather, according to the degree of our saranagati, our surrender, the Truth will come down to make Himself known to us. We must always remember this, otherwise some spirit of imitation will be created in us. Knowledge of the higher domain is not under the jurisdiction of the intellect, and to think so is very dangerous. Intellectualism is dangerous; it will cause us to think that we have"caught the Infinite". It will be negligence to the infinite characteristic, the infinite aspect of the Lord. He is Adhoksaja, beyond the grasp of academic research.

    One time a disciple asked Prabhupad (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur),"Srila Rupa Goswami gives his explanation of Lord Balaram's Rasa-lila in one way and Srila Sanatan Goswami gives his explanation in another way, but both get their instruction from Mahaprabhu, so why is there this difference?"

    Guru Maharaj replied, "Why has Krishna been called Adhoksaja? Adhoksaja cannot be harmonised within our intellect. It is achintya-bheda-bheda, inconceivably and simultaneously one and different. Both explanations may be true simultaneously. It is achintya, inconceivable. The Acharyas have explained that when Baladev is performing Rasa-lila, He is actually conducting Rasa for Krishna in His heart. Externally Baladev is seen to be participating in Pastimes with the Gopis directly, but internally He is making Krishna enjoy that Rasa. Baladev is not the enjoyer Himself." These are the harmonising instructions of the upper house, and in this way we shall harmonise things.
    • SB 10.33.39

      vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
       śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
      bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ
       hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ
      Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs with the young gopīs of Vṛndāvana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart.



      In this sloka śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād - means those who faithfully and continually hears

      In all activities for spiritual progress, only those who have firm faith in Lord will collect  blessings. All others need to work on faith first, because without firm faith, all the effort for spiritual progress goes in vain.

      The faith doesnt grow with years of sadhana, but with personal spiritual realizations.

      Krishna katha is generally for faithful ones, because faithless people may do offenses. But those humble ones who are not offensive are qualified to hear such stories, despite the faithlessness.

  • tejiyasam na doshaya-- spiritually powerful are not in fault

    Therefore tejiyasam means spiritual power, not lustrous.


    Anyway, those who are learned knows that  materialistic persons are captivated by Mahā-māyā or material illusion, whereas devotees, by the arrangement of the spiritual energy, are captivated by Yoga-māyā-transcendental illusion.

    Such illusion is transcendental energy of Lord, which make devotees to have different personal eternal relationships with Him. Without influence of Yogamaya, Vaikuntha, Goloka, or any other eternal Lords abode can not exist.

    Those who says that Gopis were dreaming do not understand the Absolute Truth. The soul’s material life, his experience of sense gratification is a dream, but there where is Lord Krishna, there is reality. 

    There is no truth above this one.

    • how about the gopis washing clothes and cooking at dead night, prabhuji? is there such a description about them doing those activities at that time of rasa lila?

      • Thats not from Srimad Bhagavatam for sure.

        By the way, some gopis had a small babies, therefore by feeding them with the milk from the breast its aloud at any time. Lord Krishna encourage them to go back and to do that :

        SB 10.29.18Lord Kṛṣṇa said: O most fortunate ladies, welcome. What may I do to please you? Is everything well in Vraja? Please tell Me the reason for your coming here.
        SB 10.29.19This night is quite frightening, and frightening creatures are lurking about. Return to Vraja, slender-waisted girls. This is not a proper place for women.
        SB 10.29.20Not finding you at home, your mothers, fathers, sons, brothers and husbands are certainly searching for you. Don’t cause anxiety for your family members.
        SB 10.29.21-22Now you have seen this Vṛndāvana forest, full of flowers and resplendent with the light of the full moon. You have seen the beauty of the trees, with their leaves trembling in the gentle breeze coming from the Yamunā. So now go back to the cowherd village. Don’t delay. O chaste ladies, serve your husbands and give milk to your crying babies and calves.

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